TNRD Policy Committee per diem policy sparks heated discussion – 100 Mile House Free Press
The Thompson-Nicola Regional District Policy Committee is advising against a new expense policy that would prevent electoral area directors from claiming a per diem if a meal was already included in a conference or meeting.
Committee directors voted 5-4 on Wednesday, May 18 against the proposed policy, which will go to the board for review on June 6. According to a committee report, TNRD staff were tasked with creating the new expense policy to enlist new best practices as well as incorporating recommendations from the forensic audit of BDO’s expenses conducted last year.
The proposed policy would allow administrators to pay a per diem of $100 for meals, $25 for breakfast, $30 for lunch and $45 for dinner. It also suggests that daily rates cannot be claimed for meals included in connection with meetings, seminars, conferences and conventions.
This raised concerns with Zone L (Grasslands) manager Ken Gillis, who said some meals provided may not be up to standard.
“I absolutely object to the idea that just because bagels and cookies are offered as a so-called breakfast, we should be prevented from going to our own breakfast,” he said.
Area A (Wells Gray Country) Manager Carol Schaffer agreed, saying breakfast at the Southern Interior Local Government Association (SILGA) conference “was awful”, cold and not “edible in terms of concerns me”.
She was backed by Barriere Mayor Ward Stamer who said the advertised hot breakfast at SILGA never materialized and had a cold burger.
Deanna Campbell, TNRD’s executive director of corporate and legislative services, noted that many conferences automatically charge for meals with registration.
This prompted Area P (Rivers and Peaks) Director Mel Rothenburger to worry about a possible “double-dipping”, noting that while Electoral Area Directors could claim per diem when they were being offered already one meal included, taxpayers would pay for two meals – for example, two breakfasts.
“The purpose of this exercise is to impose reasonable restrictions on us that are acceptable to the taxpayers…and I feel here, Mr. Chairman, that we are resisting these things instead of promoting them and trying to impose restrictions on us,” he said. “I’m concerned about the tone coming out of this meeting.”
Committee chair and Ashcroft mayor Barbara Roden said ratepayers would likely be happy to see meals provided for trustees at conferences. She noted that allergies would be an acceptable reason to eat elsewhere after Merritt City Mayor Linda Brown noted that many events, hotels and conferences may not offer an alternative to allergies or allergies. dietary restrictions.
Brown questioned why the policy followed the CRA-accepted rate for mileage, but not the CRA-approved rate of $113.50 for per diem, noting that BDO’s forensic audit pointed out that the TNRD exceeded the per diem limits, not that the per diems were too high.
Rothenburger also questioned why the policy supported a per diem rather than direct reimbursement for money spent up to a certain amount. The old per diem ranged from $80 to $100, depending on where the administrators were located in the province.
He also argued that with a $25 breakfast limit, someone could choose to have a cheaper breakfast and pocket the difference.
Kamloops City Manager Denis Walsh also said the daily charge was “excessive,” noting he had gone out to dinner the night before “and it cost me $26 and I had a drink.” He said there should be two tiers, a lower tier where no receipt is needed and a higher tier where a receipt would be required for reimbursement.
Staff noted that from an accounting perspective, per diem was easier to execute because it can take time to track down managers for receipts.
Gillis proposed that the subsection of the policy be amended to say that the daily rate could not be claimed if a meal was included and the person consumed that meal. Schaffer seconded it.
Kamloops City County Dale Bass said she was embarrassed by the conversation.
“I just trust our staff to know what they’re doing,” she said. “I think what has just been proposed is just taking more taxpayers’ money than we should be taking.”
The motion passed 5-4, with Area B (Headwaters) manager Steven Quinn, Stamer, Schaffer, Gillis and Brown in favour.
Bass, Walsh, Rothenberger and Roden were opposed.